First book in the Heart of Dread series
By Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
Available now from Putnam Juvenile (Penguin Random House)
Check out my Melissa de la Cruz tag for reviews, interviews, and guest blogs
Melissa de la Cruz was an author I soured on for a bit. It seemed like she just kept starting new series and then nothing. The Blue Bloods series hit a few low notes. But she's finished off a couple recently, and I enjoyed how she finished Blue Bloods. Thus, I was ready to give a new de la Cruz book a chance. She co-wrote this one with her husband Michael Johnston, but it doesn't read much differently than her older books.
Natasha Kestel is a black jack dealer in New Vegas, and Ryan Wesson is the mercenary she hires to get her out of the Remaining States of America. At first it looks like the book will alternate between their points of view, but that's not the case. Once they're in the same place, FROZEN stops shifting focus.
The premise of FROZEN is pretty cool. A series of environmental disasters lead to a new ice age, plus the emergence of some mythological creatures. I enjoyed the setting, particularly the way that the land was coming back to life on the fringes, in spite of humans. Even if humans die out, other life will find a way to evolve and survive.
It's a harsh world, and one that makes a good background for a road trip. FROZEN is basically a dystopian road trip novel plus pirates and dragons. I think the ending was a touch abrupt, and interrupted the flow of the book. There has to be a lead in to the next book in the Heart of Dread series, of course, but it felt like things ended just as FROZEN was realizing its true potential.
I was unhappy with one moment that I feel violated the rules of magic
that the world had set up. At the same time, there's not much knowledge
about how the magic works, so de la Cruz and Johnston do have some
wiggle room. If you've read the book, how did you feel about it? (I
think you know what I'm talking about.)
I found a lot to like about FROZEN. It's pretty predictable, but de la Cruz has a smooth, readable style and her characters are pretty charming. The romance was rote but sweet. At the same time, there are some clever, memorable moments, like inventive lining for jackets in a world where supplies are short. It's a quick, fun read and throwing in some traditional fantasy tropes livens up the dystopian trappings.